Of Thoughts Forked
Of Thoughts Forked
The four year old boy sleeping in Abi’s arms was warm, almost warm enough to thaw her heart.
Abi sat in a flower-patterned arm-chair, 60’s and tattered. The living-room carpet was burnt-orange shag.
The pool of blood on the way to the kitchen was too voluminous to soak in completely. It just sat there looking like a species of South American mold, assuming they had crimson mold down there.
There was a knock at the door.
“Yeah,” Abi said. The little boy stirred in her arms, but he settled down again with his cheek against her breast.
The door creaked and Billy Seward stepped in holding a big silver revolver in her hand.
Billy was small, her skin looked more tanned than African, and her hair was a slightly-redder orange than the carpet. Curiosity and disgust tangled the wrinkles on her face.
Billy’s eyes landed on Abi and the boy, and she holstered her pistol. “Abernathy,” she said.
“My kid was younger,” Abi said.
“When your hubby killed him?” Billy asked.
“Yeah,” Abi said. “It feels… impossibly nice havin’ a kid sleep on you like this.”
“You wanna tell me about the blood?”
“…D’you used to be a meter-reader?” Abi asked as Billy flopped down on the couch.
“I did lotsa shit ‘for I was PD.”
“You let me out of a ticket one time,” Abi said, “long time back.”
“That why you called me personally, cause I thought we had no-love-lost.”
“Kinda— I don’t think you’re gonna let me offa anything. Just, you seem decent, better than most anyway. I want your word.”
“What about?” Billy asked
“Dumuzid— That’s the kid’s name…. He needs somebody to look after him now.”
“Why don’t you start off with what happened,” Billy said.
Twenty minutes earlier, Abi walked across the crab-grassed lawn and up to the purple door of Berylanne’s and Elizabeth’s house.
There was something wrong. She felt it like an electric shock as she touched the crystal door-handle.
The door was locked. She kicked it in.
There was a big red splash on the burnt orange carpet with a body laid in the middle of it. Abi took two steps and knelt at Berylanne’s side.
“Jesus,” Abi said. She felt her eyes burning. There was blood pumping from gashes in Berlanne’s dress. Her gray hair was smeared pink.
“Ha,” Berylanne said. Spoken laughter. Maybe she was looking up at Abi or maybe she saw the blackness past her. “Regional flooding…” she said, blood bubbling from her mouth. She laughed again and started to shake as the blood stopped pumping from the wounds in her chest.
Abi heard a cackle, something like breaking twigs.
She jumped up and walked through the kitchen, drawing the lead pipe from her belt as she kicked open the screen-door to the backyard.
There was a man in a black suit standing over a big red lump in the middle of a patch of tall grass.
Abi walked up and swung her pipe, a fly-ball pop to the side of his head. He toppled as a long shiny knife dropped from his hand.
The furrows in Elizabeth’s back were deep red and still. Dry wells.
She rolled her onto her back. Elizabeth’s face was a smiling death mask. She’d been balled up with a little boy tucked against her belly. Dumuzid. The child she and Berylanne had bought from a street-whore, given a strange name, and raised to be a prophet.
He was breathing. His skin was darker than her Tommy’s had been, and he looked better fed.
“…They rest now,” Dumuzid said.
Abi found it hard to feel sorry for a pair of bitches who’d raised their kid so he’d spout new-age shit when he’d just seen his mamas killed.
She stared down at him as he sprawled in the grass. She watched the meditative focus relaxing the muscles in his tiny brown face. She watched the tears gathering and drying in his eyes.
“Don’t look,” Abi said, dragging him away. She set his back against the house’s vinyl siding and held her hand against his eyes until she felt his eyelashes cease fluttering.
The man in the black suit, the man who’d killed her friends, he wasn’t just wearing a suit. He had a priest’s collar over his wind-pipe.
She paced back over, planning to tie his hands, to ready him for the cops she planned to call; she needed somebody to take care of the four-year-old who’d just lost his parents.
The man stood up from his place in the tall grass. Blood dripped from the flap of scalp she’d peeled back with her pipe.
“Why?” she asked.
The man looked at her, the pupils of his eyes like dark pits telling her to jump in. “They did change the natural use into that which is against nature,” he said.
She heard waves crashing in her ears.
“…Whores,” he said, “defiling God’s creation—”
He stopped talking when her pipe struck his jaw. He hit the ground again and she crouched over him.
He didn’t scream, even though she was sure his jaw was in a few pieces and most of his teeth had to be scratching at the back of his throat.
He tried to speak.
“Shut up,” she said, her pipe landing against the center of his forehead.
His eyes crossed, and she stopped seeing straight herself. Her cheeks were hot, and it seemed like she was sucking on a cube of frozen bile.
She struck again and heard his skull crack this time. She didn’t stop.
The tall grass flattened, weighed down by bits of pink and white. His brain was broken and scattered in the grass. Like a halo, she thought, and the thought made her furious.
With his face reduced to bloody sunken mash and his skull empty, he was still breathing.
She found his knife and cut off his head first.
The limbs were harder. She needed her pipe to break the thicker bones.
She tossed his arms to the east and west and his legs to the north and south. He wasn’t breathing anymore. He might have been stillborn from the start.
She was on her knees now, staring at Elizabeth’s crumpled form beyond the bloody puddle left by her work. Elizabeth’s dead eyes stared up at the sky.
“Don’t cry Miss Greene,” Dumuzid said.
She hadn’t noticed she was crying, and she hadn’t noticed Dumuzid until he was standing right in front of her and pulling her face to his tiny chest.
“This is what miracles look like,” he said.
Twenty minutes passed, as well as the few it took to tell her story. Abi was sitting in a flower patterned chair in a living room with orange-shag carpet.
Dumuzid murmured in his sleep. “I’m Dumuzid,” he said, like he was introducing himself.
She’d told her story, and Billy was staring back at her.
“Where’re the bodies then?” Billy asked.
“The priest’s in the backyard,” Abi said. “I set Berylanne and Elizabeth in their bed.”
“You shouldna moved anything.”
“You think you can get ’em buried?” Abi asked. “I got a bit of savings.”
“…Maybe I showed up twenty minutes ago and witnessed an excessive act of self defense.” Billy was glaring at her with all the hate in the world bleeding from her eyes, but that hate was mixed with pity, and Abi felt sick to her stomach.
“No thanks,” Abi said.
“It’s not like I’m doing you any favors. A sister’ll still get a few years for excessive self defense.”
“No,” Abi said. “I’m done…. You’ll look after the kid, yeah?”
“Yeah,” Billy said.