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Catherine Lockey on Smashwords
Copyright © 2016 by Catherine Lockey
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This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.
Mature Reading Material
Chapter 1: Dimewise
Steam warmed Erica’s face as she dipped the heavy metal spoon into the stuffing then dropped it onto a cafeteria style platter beside the sliced turkey with gravy and passed it down to the girl in charge of green beans. An ancient woman wearing a worn knit cap and oversized sweater winked at her as she passed by. Erica stepped back, wiping her brow with her sleeve. Her already wavy blond hair formed wispy curls, damp against her neck.
A sharp pain on the top of her head. “Owwwwwww, knock it off Uncle Rick!”
“Get those opaque digits moving Scarica!” Uncle Rick boomed in her ear.
Erica jumped. Why did he have to be so loud? Why was he even here, strutting around like a proud peacock unaware he clearly did not belong?
“I know that spoon is nearly breaking your tiny, rigid little wrist. It’s time to man up girl!”
“Aren’t you supposed to be carrying in the rest of the food?”
“Ha! I carried it all in at once. Beginning now, my work consists of motivating you to step up the pace.”
“Uncle Rick, it’s because of you I feel so dead inside.” Erica burst into giggles, grabbed the spoon and shook it in his face. Oh, the joy it would give me to smear this stuffing all over his big, loud mouth, she thought. Sadly, the repercussions wouldn’t be worth it. Erica turned toward back to her work.
The tables inside the Gettysburg Community Center were filling up. Some families. Many lone individuals. All there for a warm Christmas meal and a little company. Erica smiled.
“Just a little stuffing dear,” said the plump middle aged lady wearing an old wool coat. “I’m working on my figure.”
A tall teenage boy with a tatoo sleeve on his right arm looked at the stuffing then up at her arm. “Wow, your skin is so white.” He smiled at her.
Erica felt her face flush. I hate being reminded I’m opaque. Ugh.
“Move along then, “ she growled.
A grandfatherly looking man stepped over and breathed whiskey scent across the counter. She spooned a large portion onto his platter. “Thanks sweetie,” he said. She noticed a dirty ring around his neck.
A couple kids stared up at her.
“One at a time, “ Erica reminded.
“Mmmm. I love stuffing. My Mom said I can have as much as I want!”
“Here’s a big scoop for you and one for you too.”
The kids moved on to the beans.
“Erica, I found this for you,” Uncle Rick shouted behind her.
Erica turned and jumped. A deadly bowling ball in the form of a twenty pound frozen turkey rolled toward her tiny feet, slamming the base of the counter. Clang! The countertop shook. Erica couldn’t believe her Uncle was acting this way. Doesn’t he realize most normal, grown men don’t act like 5 year-olds?
The girl serving the beans looked over. “Rick, would you take over for me? I need a break.”
Erica’s Uncle picked up the bean tongs and clicked them in Erica’s face.
“Look, I’m a lobster, wearing a monacle.”
A raspy voice spoke across the counter.
“Let’s go with the stuffing little girl.” The man stood there, a shock of red hair sprouting from each side of his head. He began to sing, “There once was a girl facing a loon, who served him stuffing with a spoon, she began to shriek, when she called him freak…”
The rank scent of his breath rolled into Erica’s nose. Her hand froze to the spoon as she observed his rotting teeth surrounded by wrinkled, red lips. Is he wearing lipstick?
Uncle Rick interjected, “Time for you to keep moving buddy.”
“But I didn’t get any stuffing from the nice little girl,” he whined, eyes rolling.
“Maybe we should talk about this outside.” Uncle Rick’ low voice was suddenly much louder.
“Big little man, big little man…” The clown was singing again. “Big little man, you know I’m not a fan of your big little man ways.”
A gleam, a reflection of light on metal. The clown held a hatchet in his hand and was moving like liquid around the corner, behind the counter. The hatchet blade thumped and Uncle Rick’s bloody hand flopped into the bean bin.
“Aghaaaaaaaaaaaa,” Uncle Rick screamed. A high pitched, ragged noise more like that of a wounded dog. Everything moved in slow motion. Blood pulsed from Uncle Rick’s stump in time with his heart beat, a wild red fountain.
Without thinking, Erica threw the stuffing bin to floor, exposing the boiling water beneath. The clown cavorted in a sort of rain dance around Rick’s pathetic, kneeling form, wildly waving his dripping hatchet.
Erica walked toward the clown, a bin of steaming water in her hands.
Chapter 2: Blood, Beans and Gravy
A cacophony of screams echo. Chairs scrape and tumble. Dishes crash to the floor as diners trip, run, or use their walkers to escape. The clown whoops and gyrates around Erica’s blood soaked Uncle, flailing his dripping hatchet from one side to the other. She inches toward the deadly monster, awaiting his approach. When she makes her pitch she realizes too late she has missed her mark. The clown stops, his legs and feet wet.
“My hatchet breathes, my hatchet sings, it wants a blond face to ping, ping, ping,” he rasps. Erica feels something move beside her and realizes her hands are trembling beyond her control. To her right, Uncle Rick writhes on the floor as blood pours from his stump, spattering his face and chest. The clown lets out a loud whoop and lunges toward Erica. Next, the unthinkable happens – he slips.
Crack! The clown’s head bounces off the rock hard floor. Clang! The hatchet, a deadly pinwheel, spins and strikes the back wall. The clown’s blood, a red Rorschach, swirls into the water forming the shape of a worm, then a bat. Most bats eat insects and are good for the ecosystem. They are nothing to be afraid of. Vampire bats though…they give me the creeps no matter how supposedly helpful they are.
“Are you OK? I called the police. Are you alright?”
Erica felt herself move. Warm hands hold her shoulders. It’s the kid with the tattoo sleeve. A groan to her right. My Uncle! Erica runs to him.
“Lie still Uncle Rick. Don’t move.” Erica removes her belt and applies a tourniquet to her Uncle’s arm between the wrist and elbow. She looks up at the kid with the tattoo. “Get me four pillows and a blanket from the closet in the back.” To her Uncle she shouts, “You’re going to be OK Uncle Rick, just hang in there.” Tears blur her vision. Her new friend returns and helps Erica lift her Uncle’s feet onto four pillows and cover him with the blanket. Please, please let him live.A groan to her left. The clown sits up and begins to scream. "My hand, my hand, it's gone! What have I done?? I wanted it gone, now I want it back! What have I done to myself? The pain! It's unbearable. Help me! Someone help me! Aghaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah."
“Oh my God, oh my God,” Erica screams in her Uncle’s ear. Her Uncle writhes in pain, the noise more than he can bear.
The kid with the tattoo jumps up and kicks the clown in the side of the head. The clown gurgles as his head hits the floor for the second time.
Officer John Glatfelter looked back at the two scared kids. He opted to keep the siren silent as he drove them to the hospital.
“So you’re saying the old man who was lying unconscious on the floor when I arrived, that old man cut off your Uncle’s hand?”
“He. He cut off my Uncle’s hand and was coming for me. I think he was going to kill me!”
“And you?” The officer looked at Trey. You’re a friend of the family?
“No. I mean yes. I wasn’t a friend until today.”
“He kept the clown from waking up.”
“How did you do that son?”
“I kicked him. In the head.”
“Good job. You have nothing to feel guilty about. He’s obviously dangerous. I think he may be the guy we’ve been looking for.”
“Which guy?” Erica and Trey asked in unison
“The same clown character who’s been spotted outside of several schools in the last week.”
The car came to a halt.
“We’re here. Do you want me to take you home next?” He looked at Trey.
Trey looked at Erica. “Would you like me to wait with you in the hospital?”
“Yes. Thank you. Thank you.”
Trey opened his door, stepped out, then held out his hand to Erica. She took his hand and for the first time noticed his eyes were blue.
An ambulance and two police cars pull up behind them.
“Make way. We have an emergency here.”
The kids get a glimpse of the gurney as it breezes past them, feet first. The person on it appears to be strapped down. As the gurney makes its way through the sliding glass doors, Erica and Trey see a shock of frizzy red hair hanging over the side of the pillow.
Chapter 3: Evil Elf on the Shelf
Dimewise opened his eyes and whined, “Ohhhhhh. Ohhhhhhhh, my noggin. My poor noggin hurts so very much.”
A nurse touched his hand. “It’s good to see you awake. We were worried about you.” A round, young face with hazel eyes met his gaze. “You’re in the hospital. You experienced some head trauma but you’re going to be OK.” Poor guy. He’s been through hell, she thought.
“So sweet. So kind to help Dimewise.”
“Is that you’re nickname? Dimewise?” Her scrubs were dotted with little lambs. “What’s your full name?”
“Someone hurted Dimewise! SOMEONE HURTED DIMEWISE!” Dimewise hid himself under the sheets.
“Shhhh. It’s OK now. It’s OK.” Dimewise quieted. With care, the nurse pulled the sheet below his neck. “They caught the man who hurt you. He’s probably in jail right now.”
Dimewise peeked up from the covers and let out a sigh of relief. The nurse turned her head away from the stench of his breath.
“Can I get you anything to make your more comfortable before the doctor comes in to see you?
“Another man was hurt too. How is he?”
“I wish I could tell you but I’m not allowed to share confidential information.”
“But, but, but…” Tears welled up in Dimewise’s eyes. “Dimewise can’t rest until he knows. I have’st to know!” Dimewise hides his head under the sheets again.
Poor pathetic, old guy, the nurse thought. Who is he going to tell? He’s just a sad, challenged homeless guy.
“If I tell you, will you come out from under those covers?”
The sheet moved under Dimewise’s nod. “Uh huh.”
“Mr. Brady is expected to make a full recovery. His hand has been reattached by the best hand surgeon we’ve got and he’s resting upstairs as we speak.”
Dimewise pushed the sheet from his face and gave the nurse his sweetest smile.
“Is there anything I can get you before I head out to check on my other patients?”
“Candy cane please.” Dimewise points beyond his open door to a jar full of candy canes sitting on a countertop.
“No problem.” The nurse leaves and returns. “Here, I’ll open if for you.” She hands it to Dimewise. “Merry Christmas.”
“Dimewise loves his Christmas angel.” He props the cane, a red and white cigar, in his mouth.
“The doctor should be right in.” The nurse leaves his door open a crack as she leaves.
Dimewise picks up the phone. “Yes, would you please connect me to Mr. Brady on the second floor? No, I don’t know his first name, only his last…”
“That would be room 244.”
“Thank you.” Dimewise hangs up the phone.
The bed vibrates as it elevates. Dimewise sits upright, rolling his tongue around and around the candy cane. Pink spittle forms at the sides of his mouth and dribbles down his chin. The door opens and the doctor, wearing a red a white holiday hat, peers in, then looked back out.
“No. This is my LAST patient tonight.”
“But Dr. Larkey, we have a couple in critical condition I’d like you to look at – I’m not sure they should even be on this floor and I’m short-handed tonight,” the nurse said outside the door.
“The answer is still no.” Dr. Larkey closes the door and looks down at her Ipad. “You’d think nurses would get it. I went to medical school, they did not. Jesus, what a bunch of overpaid whiners.” Dr. Larkey scrolls through information on her Ipad. “So it says here you suffered some head trauma with a concussion. Let’s take a look.” Dr. Larkey holds out a stethoscope. “This might feel a little cold.”
“Hhmph.” Dimewise shakes his head from side to side and crosses his arms in front of his chest.
“Sir, I really don’t have time for this.” Dammit. I don’t get paid enough to deal with dregs like this guy.
“No. No no no no no,” Dimewise slurps.
“I’m going to have to ask you to remove that candy cane from your mouth sir.”
Maybe he has a hearing problem. Ugh. Whatever is going on with this guy, I don’t have time for it! The doctor sighs, shakes her head, and moves close to Dimewise’s right ear. “SIR, I NEED YOU TO REMOVE”
The dull sound of a puncture into meat. The doctor freezes, her face contorting in pain. A sharpened candy cane protrudes from the side of her neck. A fish out of water, her mouth opens and closes as a crimson stain stretches from her collar to her armpit. Her stethoscope hits the floor as she grabs the bed rail. The candy cane jovially bounces up and down below her face.
Dimewise leans close. “Sweet candy cane Christmas, stinging near your ear, You’re hokey pokey choking now, feeling lots of fear.” He smiles then rips the cane from her neck and pops it back into his mouth. Like a spigot, blood jets from Dr. Larkey’s neck as she throws herself to the floor. Dimewise steps out of bed, removes her hat, searches her pockets, and walks to the private bathroom.
Under a flourescent glare, he adjusts his new holiday hat to fit his head. Random sprouts of greasy, orange hair flecked with dandruff accentuate his large, crusty ears. Dimewise opens his hand, revealing a tube of Ravishing Ruby Red lipstick. He pouts into the mirror then colors his lips, nose, and eyelids a dramatic red.
After shuffling back to the doctor’s body, he pulls her into a sitting position. The strong scent of iron dances in his nose as he yanks the sopping jacket from her body and threads his arms into it. Back in the bathroom, he admires his reflection. “Now THAT’s what I call holiday spirit!”
Chapter 4: Jingle, Jingle, Jingle
The overhead lights blink and buzz. Erica squints her eyes. It’s too dark for a hospital entrance way, she thinks. The wind bites her feet and she realizes she’s not wearing any shoes or socks. What? I’m sure I put on my shoes this morning. I wasn’t barefoot at the community center.
“Here he comes.”
A boy stands next to her with a gun in his hand. “We have to be ready.”
“Ready for what?”
“Ready for anything.”
“I’m not wearing any shoes.”
“That’s OK. Here, take this.” He hands her the weapon.
“Why would I need that?”
A gurney approaches. The lights above change from yellow to blue. Erica shivers. The hair on her arms stands on end. The gurney halts and a ragged man with greasy red hair sits up and stares at her. He’s chewing.
“Oh, hello young lady, would you like to join me for a bite?” He holds up a human hand. Crunch, crunch, crunch. He sucks the pinky finger into his mouth then bites and tears it from the hand. Bloody drool dangles from his chin.
Erica jerks forward with a yelp. Trey sits up. “Bad dream?”
“I dreamed about that maniac,” she said, shaking.
“Well, the good news is he’s not going to bother us again.”
“How can we know that? I swear it was him in the gurney last night.”
“Well, if it was, he’s gotta be in handcuffs.”
Erica looked at her sleeping Uncle. Even though he had lost a lot of blood, he was expected to make a full recovery. She wondered how long he would sleep.
The phone rings.
“Is this the pale little girl with the bloody blond curl in the middle of her forehead?”
Erica throws the phone at the wall. “Oh my God, OH MY GOD!”
With a clatter the receiver nails Uncle Rick in the forehead. His eyes pop open as he slams his cast into the bed rail. “Aghahaaaaaa,” he shouts, rolling to his side.
“He’s here! He’s heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere” Erica screams and runs toward the door.
Trey grabs her. “Wait! Don’t go out there. If he’s loose, we need a plan.” Trey rummages through the cupboard in the room.
Dimewise pokes his head outside the door and looks both ways. No one. He spots a set of jingle bells next to the candy canes at the nurses’ station and smiles. Jingle bells in hand, he marches up the stairs toward room 244, his holiday jacket squish, squish, squishing in time to his gait.
The door to room 244 crashes against the wall.
“Silent niiiiiiiiiiiiight, UNHOLY Niiiiiiiiiiiiight,” sings Dimewise, shaking the bells.
“Clown, I’m going to rip off your head and stuff it down your neck!” Uncle Rick booms.
“Chitty chat, chitty chat, say hello to my little bat.” Thwump/jingle, thwump/jingle, thwump/jingle, thwump/jingle. The bells tear at Uncle Rick’s skin. A blood geyser erupts from his nose. One of his teeth flies into Erica’s hair. Uncle Rick gurgles as Dimewise grips his neck.
“Do it Trey. Do it!” Erica screams.
Trey squirts a bottle of rubbing alcohol at Dimewise, drenching his neck and face.
Thwack/Jingle. Trey’s lower lip is torn from his face and dangles from one of the bells. Trey covers his mouth and Dimewise swings again, mashing his ear and cheek.
Dimewise stops to smile sweetly at Erica. She returns his gaze, eyes narrowed, lower lip curled.
“Jingle, jingle, jingle, I’m your Krampus Kringle, I’m the king of ping, Ping, PING!”
Fffffffttt. A sulfur scent. Erica smiles, her eyes glowing pink above a lit match. Flick. The match, a shooting star, meets its mark.
Pop! Dimewise ignites. Hissssss. Pop, pop. Blue flames grip Dimewise’s greasy hair then explode in an orange and yellow frenzy. Dead animal stink fills the room. Dimewise’s eyes protrude from their sockets as he releases a banshee scream. He beats his face with his hands, whirling. Bubbling, blackened skin covers his neck, cheek, and scalp.
Like a dying roadkill, Dimewise writhes and moans then throws himself onto Uncle Rick’s bed. The alcohol covered sheets catch fire.
“Noooooooo!” Erica screams.
Two security guards fly into the room. One wrestles Dimewise to the floor while the other throws a blanket on Uncle Rick’s bed.
Chapter 5: Epilogue
“Alright. Let’s go over the events which took place at the Gettysburg Community Center,” says Dr. Williams as he scrapes a chair up to the table.
Dimewise digs his finger into his nose and pulls out a string of pale green mucus.
The forensic psychiatrist sighs. They should have cuffed both of this one’s hands to the table. “Can you tell me what happened at the community center?”
“Dimewise just wanted a warm Christmas dinner,” Tears well up in his eyes. “Then, that MEAN LITTLE MAN CHOPS OFF DIMEWISE’S BEST HAND!” Dimewise lunges toward the doctor.
“Sit down and calm down Dimewise! Breathe…….. That’s good. Now count your fingers.”
“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.” Red, pink, and white pockmarks plaster Dimewise’s neck and head. A few strands of red hair hang from his scarred, bald skull.
“Good job. Ten fingers means two hands Dimewise.”
“Now, let’s talk about what really happened.”
“At the community center.”
“You mean the day that man CHOPPED OFF DIMEWISE’S HAND?” Dimewise’s already snotty nose fills up and dribbles goo on his mouth.
The psychiatrist sighs again.
“Nevermind Dimewise. We don’t need to go over this. It’s time for dinner. I’ll have the nurse take you back to your room.”
In his office, Dr. Williams scrolls to Dimewise’s chart on his IPad and writes, “Unfit for trial. Unable to distinguish fantasy from reality. Diagnosis: Acute, untreatable schizophrenia.