His mother is screaming.
The phone is ringing.
“Ma,” Fiasco says, clutching her arms. “Ma, you have to calm down! Listen to me, you’re safe! Just breath!”
He watches the clarity slowly bloom in her moist eyes as she takes in the reality that it’s over; that whatever just happened, they survived.
“O-okay,” she finally stutters through wracked breaths. “I’m c-calm.”
“Are you sure?” he presses.
“Y-yeah,” she says, jerking an attempt at her usual, soft smile. “I-I’ll be fine now son.”
“Good. Now, here’s what I need you to do. Gather up the body, wrap it in garbage bags, dismember the remaining parts using the axe in the shed — the big one, not that tiny hatchet — and then dig six holes at least six feet deep each in the backyar– Ma? Ma?”
She’s screaming again.
“Right. Okay then, plan B. Turn off the oven so you don’t burn dinner, and I’ll answer the phone.”
Sobbing, his mother wanders away while Fiasco walks over to the phone.
“Hello?” he answers, staring at the basket of inoccuous kittens.
“Lucious? Thank God! I heard the most awful sounds coming from your house! I was worried Martha might be hurt.”
“Yeah, hey Mrs. Bushney,” says Fiasco. “We’re cool here, just had to liquefy a demon with a kitten.”
“Listen, I’d love to chat, but I still have a naked man to bury, so I kinda gotta get going. I’ll let ma know you called.”
He looks over at Muffles — still all newbornish in that monster’s goop — his mind toiling at what the hell he just witnessed. Moving over to Loriel’s corpse, he casts a glance to and fro between the slain man and the feline.
“Seer of that which is not yet?” Fiasco scoffs. “Bet you didn’t see that shit coming.”
With that, he gathers up the kittens and takes the basket over to the plastic wrapped couch. Spilling out the contents of his mother’s purse, he slips the little critters inside and hangs it around his shoulder. Best to be prepared, he thinks. Even if it does clash with this shirt.
Then he goes for the garbage bags and duct tape…
Silence. Then: click!
A new song starts.
Fucking Counting Crows; that annoyingly overplayed “Mister Jones” song.
“Tell me,” says Fiasco, leaning in close to the bartender. “And be honest. That woman over there, she’s not… I mean, it’s kind of strange to have some hot redhead just dancing in here, right?”
But the woman isn’t dancing now. She slides up on the stool next to the doctor. He leans back, giving her a wide eyed, uncertain glance.
“Hey Pete, how about a cranberry juice?” she says, her voice bringing to mind movies about ice picks and sex.
“Sure, no problem Jessica,” the bartender says with a smile.
Guess that answers that question, Fiasco thinks as his eyes drift down to her breasts… Well, if she’s not a demon, she may be on the market. Make a move!
“So… on the rag, huh?” Fiasco offers his most charming smile.
“Excuse me?” she asks, incredulous.
“Oh, I just figured because you ordered a cranberry juice, which some women like drinking to alleviate menstrual cramps. Well, that and your breasts are swollen. I can tell by how careful you’ve been to not brush them against anything, not to mention that they’re far too tight for a woman your age and this isn’t the kind of place for that type of surger–”
“Creep!” she scowls, slapping him across the face before taking the freshly filled glass and sulking back to her music.
The bartender barks a boisterous laugh.
“Was it something I said?”
“I think so,” he nods.
Fiasco shrugs. ”Never was good with women.”
“I see that. And yes, she is a worker for me.”
“Really?” Fiasco asks, glancing over his shoulder. “You mean you pay her to just…dance like that?”
“I am a blind man, stranger, I do not see her dance.”
“Then what are you paying her for?”
“To be my eyes,” he winks directly at Fiasco.
It makes the doctor’s skin crawl.
“Please,” says the bartender as he rests an elbow on the counter. “Continue your story.”
“Okay,” Fiasco says with a rub of his cheek. “I’m not normally the type to do what strange, naked men tell me to, but I had to know how Loriel knew about Panacea. So, I took care of the mess, did away with the body, and had my ma– er… girlfriend drugged up on enough brandy and cough medicine to sedate an ox. With only a few hours of night remaining, I hit the shower and then headed upstairs to my computer. I knew that if I were going to get anywhere, I’d need some help…”
Sitting at his desk, beneath the amber light of a lamp, Fiasco pulls out the small vial from his pocket. He turns it between his fingers, watching the light-green fluid slosh about inside. “Fate of the world…” he mutters, calculating, trying to piece everything together.
With a sigh, he slips Panacea back into his pocket, bringing out a smart phone in its place. This he cracks open with a screwdriver. He goes to work, his fingers moving like spider legs: rewiring, soldering, augmenting the device with a chip of his own. When finished, he wraps it in duct tape and turns it on.
“Mmmmm…” it hums.
He taps it a couple times. “Sherlock? Hey, Sherlock?”
“Mmmm… what the fuuuuuck, Doctooooor?” it says. “Mmmm… you couldn’t waaaaarn me before dooooing that?”
Fiasco grins. “Quit your bitching, I need your help.”
Silence. Then, “Mmmm… that’s a firrrrrst.”
“Yeah, well, something’s happened.”
“Mmmm… did you lose your viiiirginity?”
“What? No. I mean, yeah, but not…”
“Mmmm… Sure you diiiiid, doctoooor…”
“After arguing with him for about forty minutes, it became clear he wouldn’t accept no for an answer. So, I told him what he wanted to hear. You know, to shut him up. Then we got to work.”
“Mmmm… this is iiiiit.” says Sherlock.
The phone is propped up on a small picture frame that was previously holding a small, circular pic of Fiasco as a knobby teen holding a knobby Atari controller. The doctor wired Sherlock to see through the camera, and had it aimed at the monitor.
Fiasco looks over at the rigged device with a nod. ”I can’t imagine there’s more than two Punta Muertes in South America, though apparently, Google Maps shows one in Southern California and another in New Jersey of all places.”
“Mmmm… so, whaaaat are we waiting fooooor…?
“Huh?” Fiasco asks.
“Mmmm… Dooooctor, we must leaaaaave immediately! Your life may depend on iiiiiiit.”
“Since when are you so worried about my life?”
“Mmmm… I… weeeell…”
“Punta Muerte,” Fiasco reads from their mission statement, “is a Green Technology Education center, located on a private lot of two hundred acres. Ideal for the student of Self-Sustaining and Green Technologies, our facilities are welcome to visitors year round. Come taste our succulent fruits as they burst in your mouth and drip down your chin. Ooops, there’s some on your cheek. We’ll get that. Then enjoy our ocean side beaches where sand gets in all the right places…
“What the hell kind of place is this?” Fiasco scratches his chin.
“Mmmm… heaven, Dooooctor…”
Then he sees it. The women. Lots, and lots of young, hot, scantily clad women, trying their best to look studious as they stare, blatantly stoned at an exotic tree. There are about twenty pics like that as Fiasco scrolls down.
“That explains that. But we have a problem Cassinova. I don’t have the money.”
“Mmmm… don’t bullshit me Dooooctor. You worked for the United States government. I dooooon’t know why you live with yooooour mother, but you can’t teeeell me you are broke.”
“Well…I am. I’ve been spending all my money on…something.”
“Just…something. Nevermind, the point is, I don’t have the cash.”
Sherlock makes a strange buzzing, sighing sound, but says nothing more on the matter.
“Right. So, I’m going to get some sleep. In the morning, I’ll ask Ma for some money, then we’ll go, okay?”
Silence again. Then: “Mmmm… fine, but plug meeeeeee in to this thing. Mmmm… I do not sleep, and I’d like to… suuuurf the web…”
Fiasco links the phone to his PC with a smile. He can’t help but feel a pang of pride seeing his creation being so functional. As he wanders over to his bed, he wonders what kind of chassis he can build for Sherlock when this is all said and done. He wonders with more than scientific curiosity what his AI friend, his only friend, will do with actual arms and a body…
Then he hears the fetish porn, and Sherlock humming excitedly across the room.
Eyes closed and exhausted, he lets himself fall hard onto his bed.
Serenaded by the moans of choking women, and soaking in the afterbirth of his mother’s cat, Fiasco buries his face in his pillow, embracing the lull of a well earned sleep.
© 2012 J. Chris Lawrence