Episode 20: Tales of Skyboy
Skyboy was parked in a car, the engine still on and the muffler billowing black smoke out of the tailpipe at the edge of the curb. The curb led to a sidewalk, and that sidewalk to a chain-link fence. Beyond the fence, a Victorian building and in that building a bell was about to sounding, signaling the call of three o’clock and the dismissal of classes in the all-girls Catholic school.
It was one of the nuns who had appeared first, emerging from the double-doors on the left side of the structure that above read “GIRLS” where the word had been carved into a cement archway aver the double-doors over a century ago. Skyboy could only assume, as he sucked on his self-rolled pinner of a tobacco cigarette, that the school had at one time been co-ed, because a little ways down the right side of the building was another set of double-doors, only the word carved in the cement archway above those read, “BOYS”.
In all his life he couldn’t even remember this school being co-ed, so that had obviously been before his childhood. How long, he didn’t know, and felt an odd pang at the lack of curiosity he’d just turned over. Distracted, he suddenly threw the half-smoked half-crushed cigarette out of the window. After several dozen kids ran past, most of the yelling or screaming or talking at an insanely loud volume, Skyboy found her, the blonde girl with the braids who looked like a cross between the young actress from Jurassic Park and The Bad Seed. She saw him two, from the bottom of the steps and through the chain-link fence, making eye contact but then tilting her head like she wasn’t exactly sure… or perhaps not exactly comfortable…
Skyboy waved, tried to give her a friendly, reassuring smile through his two-day stubble, and motioned with his tobacco-smelling hand for the girl to come over.
What was her name again? Suzie? Brenda? As she came around the school fence and along the sidewalk to his growling vehicle, it clicked into his mind:
Laura said nothing in return, just stood there.
“Did your friends give you the money?”
“Yeah,” she said quietly, obviously she was changing her mind now.
“Did they give you the whole thing? I gave them fifty dollars to give to whoever wanted to go for a…” He gathered his words properly, “a quick ride with me.”
“Yeah, they gave me fifty.”
“Good.” In actual fact, Skyboy had given Laura’s friends twenty each just to pass the fifty to their friend. They all agreed, Laura (the girl who wasn’t there at the time of the original transaction, of course) would definitely be the one who would go for it, fifty bucks all-in. Now, Skyboy could see by her face, Laura might not be “all-in” at all. This might take some re-doing.
“Get in the car then,” he told her, firmly yet still retaining the smooth, friendly uncle-like quality to his voice.
Laura climbed in the car from the passenger side, but got into the backseat instead, having to reach past the front seat to yank the heavy door shut now. When it shut, it slammed.
“You can sit up here,” Skyboy said, reaching for his pouch of shredded tobacco. He kept the cardboard slip if rolling papers inside the pouch, too.
“No thanks,” she said, checking him out in the rearview mirror as he licked the edge of a rolling paper.
“Cigarette?” he offered.
She tried hard not to scrunch her nose at the thought of his tongue licking any kind of cigarette that she’d have to put in her own lips. “No thanks,” she said again, managing an amiable tone herself.
“You a virgin?” he asked directly into the rearview mirror. That got a smirk from her, now.
“Of course not.”
Of course not, he thought. Fucking teenagers.
Two hours later, with Laura just about to whine and ask if they were even close yet, Skyboy finally pulled the car to the side of the road. He didn’t have to coerce her from the car, or not much, anyway. He only had to hint that there would be food where they were about to walk to, she was practically starving now, it was nearly five o’clock and she hadn’t eaten anything since quarter after twelve that afternoon. And even then, it had only been half a sandwich and a fruit bar.
As hungry as she was and wanting to believe she’d also be fed as part of this whole deal, she did wonder just where across this empty grass hill there was going to be food. Shit, she didn’t even see an apple tree or a blackberry bush around. There was nothing, just grass and the far horizon.
Once again, she was about to ask if they were remotely close to their destination, her lips parted to put forth the words, when Skyboy suddenly stopped, and she saw the hole in the ground.
Oh, fuck, ran though her mind, and her empty stomach now filled with panic. I’m a stupid fucking girl…
Then Skyboy pushed her in.
Mostly from the panic, Skyboy figured, Laura had fainted before hitting the bottom of the pit. Not that she would’ve hit the bottom, anyway. She was caught in the arms on the ex-soldier (and current Manson-like hippie-looking right-wing survivalist) who lived at the bottom of the pit. Or rather, the foxhole, as he mentally referred to it. Laura in his arms now, the soldier gently rented her down in the corner of the foxhole where there were a stack of two giant duffel bags, both sealed up.
“She’s a beaut!” He called up to the top of the hole, and then he saw Skyboy peer over.
“Glad you like her!” Skyboy called down.
“You’re Skyboy?” The soldier called back up.
“Yeah, Buddy, that’s me! So… we have a sealed deal, then?”
“Yup, I reckon we do!” Buddy called back.
“You know what to do?”
Buddy tapped the side of his dirty head. “Steel trap, man,” he said.
Somehow, Skyboy didn’t quite believe him.
“How you gonna do it?” Skyboy asked.
“Don’t you worry your yuppie little head about that!” Buddy called back from the bottom of the foxhole. “You leave that to me. I got the guns, I know what I’m doing. Fully trained.”
“Alright, Buddy,” Skyboy leaned back to leave.
Skyboy’s head re-appeared over the looming edge of the foxhole.
“You want to stay and party for a bit?” Buddy asked.
“No, thanks, man. But I gotta go see a Russian about a killing.”
“Another hit?” Buddy asked.
“No, same one,” Skyboy said, and watched Buddy’s face twist into confusion?”
“You putting another hit out on this Kodek fella?”
“Yeah,” Skyboy said flatly.
“Why?!” Buddy called up, obviously upset.
“In case you fuck it up, Buddy.”
Buddy went a little deflated.
“Look, it’s no bid deal,” Skyboy consoled. “You have your girl, like you asked. You’ll get Kodek, too. This is just in case.”
“Just in case,” Buddy muttered. He looked over to the girl, now stirring, and decided he’d better get to her. He looked back up to the daylight peering through the hole overhead, but Skyboy was already gone, leaving Buddy standing in his own hole, feeling slightly emasculated.
He really needn’t have worried himself over Skyboy’s comments, after all. It had taken two months, but now, (two months later) here was Kodek himelf, in the flesh, sitting with Buddy in his foxhole, and Buddy was suddenly acutely aware that they were surrounded by so many bones…
So many bones, littering the floor and corners of Buddy’s foxhole. Buddy and Kodek had gotten into a deep, distracting conversation and now Buddy had won. Buddy was now holding his pistol, the barrel of that .45 pointing right at Kodek’s temple.
Down Buddy’s temple, a getaway drop of sweat crawled the outline of his cheek.
Kodek had another overwhelming feeling of deja vu:
While the soldier already had the .45 out from the duffel bag and he was pulling the trigger.
(How the fuck did I let this guy distract me–?)
And then he pulled it! He pulled the trigger! And Kodek’s mind SCREAMED: I’m fucking DEAD – while Kodek wasn’t even exactly sure what or how this had all happened; but it was far too late.
The gunshot rapport slammed through the foxhole and off the walls and up through the hole in the ground, shattering through Buddy’s ears, and he wasn’t even aware he was drooling through his evil grin, gun still in hand, face splattered with Kodek’s blood.
Kodek’s head was exploded all over the far end of the foxhole and his lifeless body slumped off of the duffel bag he’d been sitting on and thumped onto the dirt floor.
Buddy put the gun away. He got his knife. The big one. He wasted no time. He began to carve. And he began to eat. His mind raced and heated up. He knew, with anything leftover, he would have to make a fire. Like he did before. With that girl. The girl who screamed in his face.
He remembered the screams.
Her name was Laura.
A few hours later, with Buddy’s compulsions satiated and the fire crackling in front of him and the gorgeous smell of cooking meat filling the foxhole, Buddy heard something. A sound. It was already starting to trail off into the distance, which Buddy thought was odd as he hadn’t heard it approaching. But he heard it now, and he knew what it was. A tape player blasting a song out of a car as it drove away into the distance. And he knew the song, too. Aerosmith. A cover-tune, one from the eighties…
“Come together… right now…”
And as the song faded out with the increasing distance of whatever moving car it was coming from, Buddy shuddered. A streak of cold shocked his spine. His jaw opened and locked. He felt some unreasonable terror he couldn’t explain to himself, could not rationalize.
And in the following seconds, like the song in the wind, that feeling of utter dread faded from Buddy as well, until it was just a confused memory of a feeling, and then, soon, nothing at all.
And Buddy went back about his business with the fire and the flesh.