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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Jack Kills Martha - an excerpt from "Killing Tom"

Walter peeled one eye open and tried to focus. He had no idea where he was and struggled for any sign of familiarity. The smell of cigarette butts and stale whiskey permeated his nostrils as he struggled to raise his swollen head from what he now recognized as his living room floor. “Oh, fuck,” he moaned as his head exploded in pain and his insides clenched in threatening spasms. “Jack?” He murmured and swallowed hard. “Where are you?” He rose cautiously to his knees and steadied himself against the overturned coffee table. Desperately trying to focus, he scanned the room. Jack wasn’t there. He rose to his feet and shuffled to the back window, stumbling over the shoe he had managed to discard the previous evening. The back door was wide open and fresh snow had begun to accumulate on the tiled kitchen floor. Walter paid it no heed as he looked into the back yard. The van sat at an angle in the grass, both passenger and drivers doors opened to the elements. The hazards where flashing dimly and he could hear the faint intermittent whoosh of wipers against the windshield. “How did I get it facing the wrong way?” He pondered as an overwhelming wave of nausea struck him.

Walter threw up in the snow, his mind numb and head throbbing when he noticed the blood. Near the neighbor’s fence, there was a great mound of fresh snow, blood showing from beneath. “Oh my God!” Walter screamed, as he wiped at his mouth with the soiled, wrinkled sleeve of last night’s dress-shirt. He sprinted into the yard, nearly slipping on the slush, and rushed to the bloody mound of snow. “JACK!” Walter wailed. “Jack—oh, no—I’ve finally really done it—I’ve killed the poor son of a bitch!” Walter dug at the snow and held back vomit again as his hand brushed over frozen, bloody fur. “Fur?” He gasped, coughing and swallowing bile. “What in the fuck…” He dug furiously and recognized the neighbor’s English sheepdog, Martha and shrieked anew.

“Oh, God, Oh, God, Oh, God,” Walter muttered, clearing the snow away from the bloody carcass. “I’ve killed Martha, I’ve killed Martha, I’ve killed Martha…” Then he saw the feet. He recognized the feet, or at least the shoes covering them, to be those of Jack. Walter screamed again—the feet seemed to be coming out of the dog. “Oh God, Oh God, Oh God,” Walter began again. “Martha ate Jack, Martha ate Jack, Martha ate Jack…”

Suddenly the feet shifted and Walter heard a groan from deep inside the dog’s carcass. The dead animal shifted, and Jack pulled himself from within. Covered in blood, his hair slicked to his head, his eyes slimed shut, Jack yawned. “Thank God,” he said, strings of blood and innards trailing between his lips as he spoke. “I thought I was going to freeze to death…”

“For God’s sake,” Walter said. “Why didn’t you just come in the house?”

“House?” Jack said, looking around, wiping gristle from his eyes. Walter pointed at the house. “Oh—we’re home…”

“Yeah—why didn’t you come inside?”

“You left me—I was asleep—it was snowing…I wandered around and got cold—that’s when I spotted this lion…”

“That’s Martha—the Beuford’s sheepdog,” Walter corrected.

Jack’s eyes grew wide. He looked at the dead pet and screamed. “I killed Martha?” Walter nodded and began to throw snow back over the carcass. “Fuck—I thought she was a lion…” He began to shovel snow over the dead animal with his hands along with Walter. “She fought like a lion…” He muttered.

“I’ll bet,” Walter said. “So after you killed the lion, you cut it open and crawled inside?”

Jack nodded. “To keep warm.”

“Just like ‘Call of the Wild’, huh?”

“Yeah—call me Clark Gable…” Both men chuckled nervously and stood, kicking a few more layers of snow over the dog.

“That should do,” Walter said.

“Yeah, let’s get inside,” Jack nodded. “I’m freezing…”

“Dude,” Walter pointed at Jack’s arm. “The blood is freezing—that’s creepy…”

Jack looked down and smiled, his face wrinkled in disgust. “Yeah, how about it?”

They walked toward the house, both men looking forward to some hot cocoa and Tylenol.

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