Social Convention

Five things about this story:

1. No, it’s not a part of The Dark Calling.

2. It is, however, horror. Happy Halloween.

3. I got the idea when I was talking to my neighbor. He’s a chatty guy. I don’t know him well, but if our paths cross I typically end up in at least of few minutes of obligatory conversation about nothing. The last time that happened, I started thinking. What if such a conversation interrupted something dark?

4. That is the only part of this story that’s true to life. I’ve never chopped up anyone.

5. As I started writing this, the voice of the narrator became clear to me. His way of talking reminded me of Quentin Tarantino‘s dialogue. I’m not drawing a comparison. Tarantino is a helluva writer, and dialogue is one of his core strengths. I only mention the association because, while I’m not shy about including potentially offensive language in my stories, this one has more than the usual amount. If that kind of thing bothers you, skip this one.

If you do read it, bonus points for anyone who can pick out the Tarantino line without looking it up.

social convention

I blame social convention. Well, social convention and poor planning.

The thing is, I thought I had trash bags in my trunk. When I close my eyes I can see them, right next to the tire iron and my portable blow torch–a brand new box of Hefty lawn bags. But they weren’t there.

Of course, I saw they weren’t there before I went into the house. I suppose I could have gotten back in the car and made a quick trip to the nearest store, but it didn’t seem like it would be that big a deal. I mean, who doesn’t have trash bags in the house? I’ll tell you who: that tree-hugging bitch, that’s who. She didn’t even have a fucking Walmart bag. Nothing plastic. Only paper.

So, there you go. Poor planning. Impatience is the mother of all fuck-ups, right? Or is that assumption? It should be both.

Anyway, I was already keyed up, you know? I can remember standing there with my keys in one hand and my tool bag in the other, looking down at the trunk. Fuck it, I thought. I’m going in. What’s the worst that could happen?

I was parked right next to her garage, for Pete’s sake. Even in daylight, it shouldn’t have been an issue, and it wouldn’t have been if she didn’t live next door to Chatty Fucking Cathy.

So, I did the job. I know that’s the part you really want to hear, but that’s not what this is about. Besides, there’s plenty in the papers. They did all kinds of forensics. Real CSI shit. The Post published a fucking timeline of it, from the minute I got there ’til the minute I gave up.

You wanna know what happened? Read that. The details are for me.

Hell, I’m not even telling the public defender. He asks every time he comes in. What a prick. You know what I said last time he was here? I grabbed my croctch–look at me–I grabbed it like this and I told him, “Defend this!”

That blood-sucker’s got no sense of humor.

Anyway, I did the job. It took a bit of time. I got there mid-morning and by the time I was done it was almost 6:00. You can’t rush this shit. I wasn’t too worried about cleaning up the house. That isn’t my thing. I know some guys get off on the mystery. They like to leave everything spick and span. Where did she go? No signs of forced entry and all that shit.

You know what I say to that? I’m not the fucking maid, that’s what I say. But still, I like to make disposal easy on myself. That’s why use the bags.

So there I am, all these goddam pieces and no plastic bags. But I had paper, and my trunk was lined with a tarp. I figured I could carry stuff out quick, chunk it on the tarp and then just bury the whole thing later. Easy-peasy.

I started throwing stuff in the paper bags and carrying it out to the car. Every time I went back for another part, I thought about the clerk at the super market. “Paper or plastic, sir?”

Paper. Goddam paper, you little fuck. Paper, paper, paper!

I was on my last trip, I shit you not, when Chatty Cathy pulled into her driveway. She recognized me. I mean, we’d met before. She didn’t know my real name, but she knew Linda and me met on eHarmony and she loved to shoot the shit. I was just about to open the trunk when she called over, waddling across the yard in my direction.

She hollers to me, waving like she’s in the middle of a crowd and I might not see her. I waved back, but I didn’t make eye contact. She was supposed to take the hint. She did not.

She got as close as 5 feet from the car. Way too fucking close for me to pop the trunk even a few inches to slide the last bag in. I don’t know what you know about blood, but it has a scent. It’s metallic. You cut your finger, you’re not going to smell it. But you chop up a body, and you might just catch a whiff. I wasn’t about to open the trunk with her standing right there.

She starts talking about her day. Asks if me and Linda have anything fun planned for the weekend. That was when social convention kicked in. I should have told her I was busy, that it wasn’t a good time to talk. I could have said I was in a hurry, or I could have told her to fuck off, but instead I started chatting with her, trying to wrap up our little after-work rap fest without being rude.

How funny is that shit? I mean, her neighbor was in pieces in my trunk, and I didn’t want to be come off as impolite. The mysteries of the human brain, huh?

So we’re talking, and I’m standing there holding this fucking bag, and all I can think about is how heavy it feels. What did that Jerry Maguire kid say? Eight pounds? It felt like twenty.

She’s in the middle of some shit about her new puppy and how he keeps pissing and shitting all over her living room when I see her eyes go wide. I look down and there’s blood seeping through the bag. Not much, but enough. It’s red and thick and tough to miss.

She stops mid-sentence. We were making eye contact, and we both knew. It was like we had a conversation with that look.

She says something about getting dinner ready and starts to turn away. Now, this is the part where the public defender and his shrink keep asking for more details. The shrink thinks it was a–what do you call it? A cry for help. Says I wanted to get caught.

Fuck that. I was just irritated as hell.

I popped the trunk, tossed the last bag in, and grabbed my hatchet. I had Chatty Cathy down before she made it to her front door. Lemme tell you, I thought Linda bled a lot. She had nothing on that fat bitch.

There were other people getting home from work. It was like fucking Mayberry. I look up and there are kids playing a few yards over. Guys holding brief cases. A girl jogging past on the sidewalk. They’re all looking right at me, and I’m covered, head to fucking toe, with bits and pieces of Chatty Cathy.

I tried to drag her over to my car. I was thinking if I could put her in the trunk and take off, I could ditch the car and slip away on foot.

But here’s the thing: I’m not just being mean when I call her fat. She was big girl. I mean, like, orca fat. I was already worn out, and it was work pulling her across the yard. I heard sirens before I’d made it half way.

So, I sprinted across a couple of lawns, grabbed one of the neighbor kids–a little one I could carry–and went back to the house. No one even tried to stop me. Everyone just stared or stood there and screamed.

Five minutes later, the cops pulled up. I watched the whole thing on TV in the house. They interrupted American Idol for a special report. Some shit, huh? The cops only tried to negotiate with me because I had a hostage. Call that social convention, too. Even the newscasters knew that kid wasn’t going to make it out.

It went on for hours. The only reason I gave up was because I was getting bored. Besides, they kept asking for me to send the kid out, and how was I going to do that?

I’d already used all the fucking paper bags.