by Charles C. Cole
At dusk at an abandoned farmhouse, two out-of-state “cleaners” arrived for a last-minute job. With his gloved hand, Markus punched out a panel of glass in the door and let them in. “Never gets old,” Markus said, raising his fist victoriously.
Enzo wrinkled his nose, unimpressed, crunching on the glass as he stepped through. He tried the light switch, unsuccessfully. “No electricity. It’s going to get dark,” Enzo commented.
“We won’t be long,” said Markus. “Besides, we’ve got basic creature comforts: walls, windows and privacy.”
“You couldn’t find a place with furniture?” asked Enzo.
“There are folding chairs and a blanket in the trunk,” Markus said, tossing the keys. “Leave the blanket. We’ll need it later.”
“But I’m cold.”
Markus reached inside his jacket. Enzo tensed. “Easy, hotshot, I’m getting a flashlight.”
Enzo deferred. “I’m good.” Outside, he stumbled in the near-dark. “Still good,” he called out.
Markus removed a gun from inside his jacket, giving it a quick air-kiss and tucking it out of sight.
Enzo returned with the chairs.
“No blanket?” Markus taunted.
“Like you said, we’ll need it later.” Enzo opened the chairs, gesturing to Markus, who declined.
“How long?” asked Enzo.
“Got a date?” Markus teased.
Enzo jumped to his feet. “Damn!”
“What now?” asked Markus.
“We forgot shovels!”
Markus wiped his nose, thinking. “It’s an abandoned farmhouse. Check the barn.”
“Did you see the way that thing was leaning?” asked Enzo.
Markus cracked his neck menacingly. “You refusing?”
“Pass the flashlight,” said Enzo. He noticed that Markus removed it from the opposite jacket pocket. He took it and headed out, slapping the doorjamb as he left.
A black sedan pulled down the long gravel drive. Markus leaned against the wall and reached in his jacket.
The delivery man, Wilson, entered. He tried the light switch.
“It’s dead,” Markus explained. “You got a package?”
“In the trunk,” said Wilson. “Longest drive of my life! You alone?”
“What’s it to you?”
“I mean,” Wilson explained, “he’s heavy, like a sumo wrestler. He climbed in, but he ain’t climbing out.”
“Not your problem.”
Enzo burst in, breathless, shovel in hand. “Someone’s here!” The three men assessed each other silently. “Everything okay?”
“We’re getting acquainted,” said Markus.
“I found a shovel. It’s rusty, but it’ll do the job.”
Wilson snorted. “You forgot shovels? What were you planning, covering him with leaves?”
“Actually,” Markus joked darkly, “there’s a woodchipper out back.”
“What brand?” asked Wilson, interested. “I’m kind of an expert. Movies make it look easy, but there’s one model that’s pretty finicky. I’ve seen things go to hell grinding through the pelvis.”
“We’ve got it,” said Markus.
“Who’s moving the body? I just deliver.”
“Is he heavy?” asked Enzo.
“This sucks,” Enzo blurted.
Wilson noticed the chairs. “Don’t mind if I do,” he said, sitting.
“This so sucks,” Enzo said, kicking at the broken glass on the floor on his way back out.
“I’ll be right there,” Markus called. “Make sure he’s dead. I don’t like surprises.”
“He isn’t dead!” Enzo yelled, dashing back to the door.
“Like hell!” said Wilson.
“Somebody’s moaning and groaning out there, and this ain’t lovers’ lane. And what’s that sticky crud all over your car?”
“Hold that thought,” said Wilson. “I’ll be back.” He tugged on his waistband and stepped out.
“How do you make a mistake like that?” Enzo asked.
“Watch your back,” said Markus. “Something doesn’t feel right.”
Wilson returned. He was spooked. “He’s not dead!”
“Not yet,” said Markus meaningfully.
“You don’t understand: he was. He had more holes in him than a cheese grater.”
“His condition improved,” joked Markus. “Must be the fresh country air.”
“Makes no sense,” said Wilson.
“Guess you got a job to finish,” said Markus.
“Makes no sense,” muttered Wilson.
“First day on the job?” Enzo teased.
“It was the cargo plane!” Wilson gasped. “Didn’t you hear the news? This military cargo plane blew up earlier today, right over Arlington. I pulled over for a leak at this gas-n-go. I come out and the car is covered with this sticky, smelly goo. I got a rag out of the trunk to wipe down the windows and tossed it back in, right on top of the dead guy. The stuff must have reanimated him!”
“Are we being punked?” asked Enzo, peering outside.
“He was dead, I tell you,” said Wilson.
“You can always kill him again,” said Markus dryly, “for the practice.”
“I ain’t going out there!” cried Wilson. “This is twisted!”
“Don’t look at me,” said Enzo. “I just bury ’em. I don’t kill ’em. I’m not that ambitious.”
“Idiots!” cursed Markus. “Wait here.” He stepped out. Three shots rang out, followed by an angry scream. Markus returned, a bloodied kerchief wrapped around his hand, his face pale. “Bastard bit me!” He collapsed in a chair. “What happened to death with dignity?”
“Is he dead?” asked Wilson.
“He’s missing half his face, so pretty much,” said Markus.
“But is he dead?” Enzo insisted.
“The trunk’s open,” said Markus. “Look for yourself.”
“You left the trunk open?” asked Wilson.
“It’s easier to get him out that way,” Markus explained.
“You don’t look good,” commented Enzo.
“Compared to a faceless corpse, I feel like George Clooney,” said Markus. “Go check on the delivery. Go!”
Enzo stepped out but hesitated. “Somebody owes me big for this.”
Markus waved his gun at Wilson. “See what’s up.” Wilson shook his head but didn’t resist.
In the dark, Wilson screamed. “What the hell?” said Markus. “Hey, delivery boy!” Silence. “Makes no sense.” He struggled to the door, feeling a cold chill from the shock of his nasty bite.
Enzo stood in the doorway, blood down his shirt, a big gash in his neck, his face gray.
“What have you been up to?” Markus said. “Where’s the other guy? This is messed up.”
Enzo closed in.
“Screw you!” Markus shot until the clip was spent.
Enzo staggered, then jumped him. They fell to the floor. Markus grabbed the shovel and jabbed the blade into Enzo’s neck. The effort took all the strength he had. “This is messed up,” he mumbled. Then the other two were on him.
Copyright © 2013 by Charles C. Cole